A group of students at Utah State University have created a way to do “whatever a spider can.” They’ve invented a suit that allows the user to ascend a wall similar to Spider-Man, Wired reports.
Powered by vacuums, the “Ascending Aggies” built their very own wall-crawler for an Air Force competition to help commandos scale tall buildings without stepping into a vehicle or picking up a grappling hook.
The undergrad team beat out other teams from 16 other universities to claim the Air Force Research Laboratory’s annual Design Challenge. They won $50,000 and have a chance to win more for their work on the suit, which they’ve dubbed the “Vertical Assender.”
The suits work up to 300 pounds and are battery-powered and “designed to operate for about 30 minutes, which was several times the expected climb time,” Steven Hansen, the winning team’s faculty adviser, tells Danger Room. “For the competition, each university had one hour to train the Special Forces climbers and to get four climbers to the top of the 90-foot wall.”
The heart of the Ascender is actually its lungs. Tubes extending from the “Personnel Vacuum Assisted Climber” to pads the size of dinner plates, worn over the hands, provide sufficient suction to get 300 pounds’ worth of commando over the wall.
There is one drawback to the suit–the amount of noise generated. It won’t allow for stealth.
Hansen considers stealth — and not, say, incorporating web shooters — the Ascender’s next design challenge.
“The students had to focus their attention on finding a solution in a finite period with finite resources to solve a specific objective given to them by the Air Force — and they did it,” he says. “The USU College of Engineering has been asked to submit a proposal to secure a $100,000 grant to further develop its winning idea for the Air Force. This includes minimizing size, reducing weight, and making it much more quiet.”
And since some of you don’t believe us unless we give you actual footage of something, we’ve got a YouTube video below that shows off the suit.